The writer's gig economy is a great way to make money and have more time on your hands, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Furthermore, you could end up getting matched with an employer that you are just not going to mix well with. That’s why it is very important to pick and choose who you work for in an attempt to find a job that fits your style.
If not, you risk a plethora of problems, including burnout, loss of interest in your work, growing tensions with your employer, and the potential of being blackballed for bad behavior. This is all stuff that happens in today's writing economy but can be worth it if you find the kind of jobs that fit with your personality.
Does that even exist though? Is it possible to work for people that will focus on your strengths and help mitigate your weaknesses? Are there actual gig employers out there that will be a good fit for you? Believe it or not, the answer to this question is a resounding yes, and it all pretty much depends on how hard you investigate your job search.
For example, I used to work for a sports site that was very strict on spelling, grammar, and what kind of narrative was put out there. It got to the point where I felt creatively stifled and would be in regular arguments with editors over what was wrong. My work suffered, my career suffered, and I was ultimately let go after many failed attempts with the company in my last year and a half.
And boy was getting fired a wake-up call. It honestly made me question my abilities and whether i was meant to be a writer or not. It made me think I could never work within an organized system, which was probably true. What was also true though was the fact that there were jobs out there that wouldn't be as difficult as what I previously experienced.
Problems like the ones described above are a common occurrence in the gig economy. You can easily find yourself hating a job in a matter of days if it doesn’t fit in with your personality or abilities. You can also rub your employer the wrong way and ruin any chance you have at getting to use what you learned on your resume.
While I was originally angry with the company over being dropped after 8 years of work, I realized I just didn’t fit into what they were doing. I wasn’t being compliant with their suggestions. my grammar was horrible due to deadlines or stress, and I outright refused to throw a positive spin on something when asked. I was impossible to work with after a while and the company had every right to show me the door.
Fast forward a few months later and that might have been the best thing to ever happen to me. Not only did it allow me to look for other work, but it also taught me a lot about what to look for in a possible job employer. Now, everyone is going to be different in that regard, which is why you need to know what you are looking for to save time.
For example, if you have perfect grammar, concise word use, and can do a quick turnaround, there are a plethora of opportunities for you. Heck, there are websites like Upwork, Contently, and Clear voice, that will allow you to work with countless clients. All you have to do is follow their directions, put in the work, and reap the benefits once you complete an assignment.
Another huge thing writers need to do when feeling out new employers is to listen to the feedback they are given. Of course, this is probably the hardest part due to your work likely being personal, but you will be much better off listening. At least this way, you are either slowly becoming what the company is looking for, or know that you need to find a new place to work.
This kind of work isn’t for everyone though. A lot of places are very strict in what they accept, making it only for a select group of people. That’s not something you should feel bad about, it just means you need to look elsewhere for your opportunity. Where is there left to look? Is it ok to go off the beaten path to find a gig?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes and might even be more lucrative than content mills or on-bidding jobs. This is due to the fact that instead of throwing your resume and portfolio on an already stacked, you can contact the employer directly and start talking business. This is mostly done on Craigslist gig jobs in major cities, but can also be found on Indeed, Zip Recruiter, google searches, and even some groups on Twitter. The world is your oyster when it comes to job searching online and you just have to keep looking.
Sooner or later, you will compile a list of possible places to work with and start the feeling-out process with your employer. This is a very critical time in finding a job and should be taken seriously. You honestly need to be looking out for any little red flag or any contrast between how you work and how they work.
You also need to keep an eye out for scams, making the gig economy a minefield of sorts. You will literally run into gigs that are either too good to be true, want personal bank information, or need a little bit of money to get you started. Make sure to avoid these jobs at all costs and focus on the ones that look legitimate.
One way of gauging the legitimacy of a company is to do a quick google search on them. Look at their history, reviews, and any interesting news articles about the site. Make sure who you talk to is on the up and up while also keeping an eye on how they talk to you. If you notice miss spellings, no explanation of payment, or rude behavior, they probably aren't the right job for you.
Start with the introductory email they send you for a job. If you start to see terms you are uncomfortable with, such as constantly being watched or tight deadlines, don’t take it. You will much better off waiting for an employer that wants to work with you and your schedule. You will also be comfortable once you find an employer that is able to match your workflow.
Another thing to watch out for is the word count for each article. While you might believe you can take on a 2000-word assignment every week or more, it is much better to try things out than to go full speed ahead. You might even want to offer your potential employer a feeling-out period to make sure you two understand each other’s style of work.
This also helps to show a level of dedication to your craft, which could end up being very much appreciated by a potential employer. You can also probably gain bonus points for doing a tryout article to make sure you are a good fit. Although this sometimes results in not getting paid, it does give you a bit of an idea of what they are looking for.
It is possible though? In my case, it very much was and it really had to do with the fact that I never gave up trying. I also met some very kind employers that were very accommodating with my schedule and limitations. Now, that’s not to say it’s easy to find, or that you won’t fail a few times along the way, but it is still very much possible.
In the end, search as you’ve never searched before. Try new things to build your repertoire and find employers that you enjoy working for. If not, you are just going to be an unhappy cog in a giant wheel and that’s not where you want to be. It might even kill your love for writing altogether, which is a worst-case scenario.